Tess Routliffe, competing at the 2015 ParaPan Games in Toronto, swims in multiple events in Rio. Photo courtesy of Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Concordia freshman making a splash in Rio

Tess Routliffe opts out of first-year transition time and into the pool at the Paralympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Tess Routliffe typically spends September in school. This year, she’s in Rio, representing her country at the Paralympics.

Instead of transitioning from high school in Caledon, ON to Concordia University in Montreal, she’s in the Paralympic pool where, she says, she’s “doing her thing.”

But, soon, she will be in the school, where she will introduce herself as a Paralympian. Or not.

“No, that’s not really me,” she said, blushing at the thought.

Routliffe finished fourth in the SB7 100m breaststroke final on Saturday – an improvement from her fifth place finish in the 50m free the previous night.

Her humbleness out of the pool translates well when she steps onto the starting blocks. Routliffe stays calm and level-headed knowing this is just routine.

“I’ve learned to tell myself ‘you’ve done this before’ and it’s nothing new,” Routliffe said. “It’s just a race I’ve done. You just go and you do it.”

Routliffe has received overwhelming support on social media despite her classmates not knowing her… yet.


The swimmer said the encouragement not only comes from friends at home but from fans across the country. The extra motivation makes the Games much more special.

“They’ve been really supportive and text me every single day,” Routliffe said.

She swims again on Monday in the S7 50m butterfly and Tuesday in the 200m individual medley.